Chop Wood, Carry Water
(everyday life, dreams and the spiritual path)
What Are You Committed To?
Greetings, dear reader. Have you been enjoying the beauty of autumn? I sure hope so. I have always preferred to live in places where the changing of seasons is very distinct. I like to feel, see, and move through the changes and gifts each season offers. Our life has many seasons too, doesn’t it? Childhood and youth are often likened to spring. Young adulthood is equated with summer, while later adulthood is associated with autumn and our last chapters with winter.
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The cycles and seasons of our lives have their own patterns. It can physically be summer outside and winter internally as we face obstacles and growth spurts. People marrying the love of their lives at eighty years young can experience a summer in the biological winter of their lives. There are no rules. Life makes its own path, creates its own weather, and has its own seasons.
For me, possibly the most important question one can ask oneself is, “What is it you are committed to? “. By this, I mean the one thing you are committed to that has nothing to do with anyone else. Let me rephrase that. I believe it is of utmost importance to be committed to something that transcends space and time and even transcends you in this body, the thing that existed before you were born and will exist when you leave this body.
Chop Wood, Carry Water
As humans, we have a tendency to compartmentalize everything; I do it too. We can fall into the trap of believing that only when we meditate, pray, do yoga, or partake in rituals and ceremonies are we doing something spiritual. A Zen (Japanese Buddhism) says, “Chop wood, carry water.“ These four words carry a lot of wisdom.
It is easy to unconsciously develop a co-dependent relationship with your spiritual practice (by only feeling fulfilled when you are doing something ‘spiritual’). It is equally easy to become detached from your day-to-day life by wishing you could be “pursuing your spirituality” and not being fully present with what you are actually doing at the moment.
The point is to bring your mindful awareness to all your activities and that this is the practice. Life itself is the path, and we get to decide how committed we are to bringing our presence and our awareness to our daily activities. We can notice where we have resistance and where we have attachment. We can work with our mind to release its grasping nature and reside in a more open and expansive state. How do we do this?
We do this first by bringing all our attention, energy, and focus (essentially our presence) to the task at hand. Secondly, we engage the witness or observer. The witness is the consciousness that is observing everything you are experiencing. As Michael Singer puts it, in his book The Untethered Soul…….
“There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind - you are the one who hears it.”
Similarly, you are not the one ‘doing’ whatever you are doing - you are the one who witnesses whatever it is you are doing. If you have never explored this notion or taken it on as a practice, it can be a bit challenging at first to understand. If you are willing to play with the witness/observer aspect of yourself, you will find it takes a lot of the pressure out of life.
The mind really gets into the storyline; whatever it is, it believes it - hook, line, and sinker. If you can engage your witness, you will find that it is a neutral observer, neither believing nor disbelieving, simply observing what is happening. When you can connect to the part of yourself that does not believe the story you are telling yourself, it helps the part of yourself that is fully attached and immersed to loosen its grip a bit.
As this happens, you will find your mind shifts gears into a more neutral state. If you are in a challenging situation, instead of feeling trapped or uncomfortable or without possibility, your mind tends to relax and expand, and at that moment, a solution can arise. Sometimes, the mere unlatching of the tight grip is the solution. I mention this because sometimes we feel trapped by the never-ending list of things to do and take care of in our lives.
With the witness in place, we are afforded stillness within our movement and rest within our activity. Presence is our ability to focus on, and be in, the now moment. The witness allows us to be present with our consciousness and observe the mind without getting involved in the story. It allows us to live in a more expanded state where solutions and synchronicities replace problems and repetition.
Mental Doing vs. Human Being
“Doing mode involves thinking about the present, the future, and the past, relating to each through a veil of concepts. Being mode, on the other hand, is characterized by direct, immediate, intimate experience of the present. “ ( 1)
Our lives are so busy and full of activity that just being is rare. Some people confuse binge-watching movies for relaxation. Even in their alone time, parents may be rushing around trying to complete many tasks in their “free time.” Unless we are asleep or alone in nature, it would seem we are doing something.
How do we recover our state of being and not continue to be a slave of endless mental and physical doing? It helps to be alone, to spend time in nature alone, and to meditate. I suggest these because, after a time of doing these things, it becomes easier to recreate these states even while not alone and even while not in nature or meditating.
If we wish to create a new or different state of being, it can be nearly impossible to create unless we have something that provides a contrast to our normal state. In other words, if our normal state is busyness and doing, then it is beneficial to spend time in stillness and non-doingness (yes, I just coined that on the spot - lol).
Everyone is a Spiritual Being
I may assume that people reading this have a spiritual path, which is partly why they take an interest in reading my blog. Nevertheless, there are plenty of people who do not consider themselves to be on a spiritual trajectory or path. Whether you consider yourself to be on a spiritual path or not, you are a spiritual being having a human experience. Your spirit animates your body; hence, you are a spirit if you have a body.
The question is, how do you want to use your life? Many people see the earth as a school where your soul comes to learn lessons and evolve. Whether or not you choose to personally engage life in this way or not is entirely a personal choice. Whether you are spiritual or not, you learn that if you touch fire, you get burned. You learn that you can expect drama if you spend time with people who disrespect you. You learn that there are consequences if you do not take care of the body. You learn that part of being human is experiencing emotion.
I suppose the difference is that if you are framing your life in a spiritual context, you use your life experience to further your evolution and refine your being. Does this mean we must subscribe to a particular dogma or that we must have a certain diet or do certain things and refrain from others? Yes and no. While I do not think it is necessary to subscribe to any dogma (in fact, that can be counter-productive), engaging in practices that evolve the mind and engage the spirit is important.
Naturally, if you wish to further your evolution, you will want to remain in your body as long as possible so that you have a vehicle to explore your spiritual endeavors. Being constantly plagued with ill health or mental affliction can create obstacles to the refinement of your spirit. This is not to say that either of those things deters you from growth altogether or somehow makes you less spiritual.
Sometimes afflictions are a direct path to evolution, but I imagine it would take a highly refined mind and approach to see it this way and to be able to work with mental illness and physical maladies as a tool for spiritual growth.
To sum it up. whether a person has a spiritual path or not, they are a spirit in a body, living a life that is teaching them lessons. The beauty of a spiritual path is that one can take almost any experience in life and use it as fuel for growth.
I have mentioned in earlier blogs that my life has not been easy. In truth, I have not met many people that have had an easy life. When I review my life, it is evident that I have lived many lives in one and that different chapters of my life were guided by different levels of consciousness. As I grow, I make different choices based on experience and my intent for my spiritual trajectory. I think it is this way for many people.
For me, simplicity is both a strong desire and an intended goal. I have come to realize that while life itself may never be simple, that there are things I can do that make it possible to have less complexity. Two major decisions and actions I took in that direction were to be single and celibate, and another was to get rid of most of my personal belongings.
I am not suggesting that if you own too much or if you are in a relationship, you can not be spiritual. I am suggesting that for me, owning too many things and being in a relationship were making my life more complex than I wanted it to be. While much of my young adult life was full of social interaction, I find the more time that passes, the more of a hermit I become. It is not that I have stopped loving people, but that with the passage of years, my spiritual evolution has become more and more important to me.
Obstacles and Growth
At the moment, my passions are all things related to the Creators of New Earth. The Creators of new Earth [ website, blog, Facebook Page, and live stream (similar to a visual podcast) shared on YouTube and Facebook] endeavors are growing me and pushing my boundaries. In order to even begin engaging in these endeavors, there was a lot I had to wipe off my plate, which is largely why I had to choose the path of simplicity.
If my life were too complicated, I would not have the space to create these things, breathe life into them, or make them happen. As it is I am challenged to keep up as I am a full-time caretaker as well. I basically have two full-time jobs, and both are part of my spiritual path.
Both jobs push my boundaries in very big ways. I could write a blog alone, all about the myriad new things I have had to learn to do in relation to Creators of New Earth projects. It has been frustrating, fulfilling, rewarding, scary, and beneficial. Both jobs contribute to my spiritual growth. Life really is the path. It is our approach and perspective that allows for fun and growth or not.
Our willingness to not fall back or shrink in the face of difficulty is probably one of the greatest assets to our growth.
Compassion and Discernment
The man I take care of is elderly, and the details of making his life happen are endless. On top of that, his memory is slipping, requiring a certain skill set and a lot of compassion. Beyond that, he seems to be checked out often, unaware of his surroundings, and not present when I speak. Although his memory is slipping, he does not have Alzheimer’s or dementia; he is very cognizant.
Not having known him for his whole life , makes it hard to ascertain whether the checked-out state he seems to be in is new ,or whether or not he has always been a little spacey. It is difficult to describe, but it is easy to discern when he is suffering from memory loss and when he is simply not present and not paying attention.
I mention it because it is part of my path right now. Taking care of him is my job, but it is also part of developing my patience and compassion. Included, is the necessity of discernment to be able to distinguish what can be attributed to old age, and what can be attributed to mental and physical laziness. As his caretaker, part of my job is to keep him engaged in his life and somewhat on his toes, in order to keep him from slipping further away.
He often asks me to do things that he is fully capable of, and I decline because he needs to move around a little and stay active and mentally engaged. He also asks me questions that I know he knows the answer to, so I reframe the question and give it back to him so he can find the answer. One time he even responded with, “Oh, I guess I did not need to ask that question if I had stopped and thought about it.” This is what I mean by being mentally lazy, and me having to discern between his cognitive decline and his mental laziness.
My discernment is also part of my compassion. If I did not care, I could just let him be physically and mentally lazy, both of which would lead to a continual and possibly more rapid decline. So, these little nudges and holding my boundaries while using my discernment is an art that takes energy, awareness, and compassion. It helps him, while growing me.
What Do You Want?
This is one of those blogs that could go on forever. What I am getting at is that we all have choices to make in this life. What is it you want? Why are you here? What are you willing to do in the name of evolving our soul? What do you value? Where are you unwilling to compromise, and where are you willing to compromise?
Is life your spiritual practice? Do you have a spiritual practice in your life that grows you? Are you pushing your boundaries? Are you having fun? Do you see how challenges grow you? For the past five years, I have had a mentor. Under his wings, I went through one of the biggest struggles of my life. I held him accountable for that struggle and for a time I stopped working with him.
Passions as a Path to Growth
Eventually, I realized it was not him that put me in a position to struggle; it was myself. I saw the value of returning to work with him, and I am so glad I did. There are many causes and conditions that lead me to my Creators of New Earth endeavors. Kevin Snow ( my mentor ) has been a great inspiration in these endeavors. Together, he and Spirit showed me that this was the direction in which I was being asked to go.
I love sharing information. I love learning and discovering. I love inspiring people. I like to engage in conversations with people who can teach me things. I enjoy helping people and myself, dispel non - truths, and opening doors to new and unexplored territory. In a nutshell, that is what Creators of New Earth does. It is a platform that says,” Well, guys, we are at a pivotal point here on Earth. Shall we follow the crowd (like sheep) to our own demise, or shall we Create a New Earth?”.
It hasn’t been all Unicorns and Rainbows creating these new platforms. I have had to invest time, money, and energy and face a lot of fears (especially when it comes to modern technology and doing new things - one of my core fears). In any case, I am here to say it’s possible. If you go in the direction of your passions and dreams and you have Spirit within you and beside you - there is nothing you can not accomplish.
Speaking of obstacles, I had hoped to be able to upload a video from my computer to this platform, as that is now a feature that Substack offers. Without a long and boring explanation as to why that is not possible for me, I will share with you a link to a YouTube video. The video is my first-ever live stream. It is a conversation between me and my mentor Kevin Snow. It is one hour long. You can listen in one sitting or various (if you like), and I hope you enjoy it.
I share it with you because I believe you will find it to be interesting, but I also share it to demonstrate that when you let your passion override your fear, you can make your dreams come true! Enjoy, and let me know what you think. Until we meet again, thank you for engaging with this blog, and may it be of great benefit. Have fun out there!
Resources for Further Engagement
The Difference Between ‘Being” and “Doing” (1)
Thank you Julie, you are helping me find my way back to the path when my spirit goes wandering. Helping me remember what I forget in the bustle of life. I have only watched half the video, but look forward to watching the rest at another time. I have always had a rough time with the idea of having one teacher or one path to perceive by, its just not my way. But I try to learn from everyone and every experience and every way of being. What you said about license plates made me laugh. I often get reminders from license plates, bulletin boards, you name it. Messages come in many ways. Thanks for being you and having this substack. Sending you appreciation and love.